PISCATAWAY - The new beginning for Gary Nova started with a jersey change, switching from No. 15 to No. 10, his old high school number. Under that jersey is a slimmed down body as he dropped 15 pounds in the offseason and is down to 225 pounds, saying he felt “sluggish” at the end of last season where he weighed in at 240 pounds.
The unquestioned starter at quarterback for Rutgers, he makes sure to walk around the Hale Center with a smile. While he’s irked by his miscues, he looks to learn from them and move on rather than dwell on the past.
As for what went wrong form the first half of last season to the second half, the answer is simple.
“I wasn’t consistent. Getting away from fundamentals that I was doing in the beginning of the year,” Nova said after Rutgers’ first spring practice. “Obviously it showed in my play.”
And his numbers.
The Scarlet Knights started the season and went 7-0 and Nova threw 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions before throwing 13 interceptions and seven touchdowns as Rutgers skidded to a 2-4 finish.
Embarking on his first spring as the starting quarterback, Nova wouldn’t pinpoint one thing he has to improve on over the next 13 practices and the spring game.
“Hopefully everywhere,” Nova said. “Just an overall better player and overall command. Just learning more, going out there and making the right decision with the ball, not trying to make a big play every time, it’s alright to punt and stuff like that and just being an overall better quarterback.”
Nova completed 57% of his passes last season for 2,965 yards as Rutgers went 9-4. Four more losses than he had quarterbacking powerhouse Don Bosco Prep when he went 24-0 in his two years as the starter.
“Last year was pretty much my first failure in football, losing games and stuff like that, so I really had to look back and change something – change everything,” Nova said. “And it started with my body and I feel great now and I continue to work hard.”
And spend this spring correcting the mistakes he made in his sophomore season.
“Just going back and looking back at last season, just trying to correct the mistakes that I made and try and grow as a player,” Nova said. “Learned a lot through a whole 13 games season through the ups and downs, but starting fresh now with a new number, new team and a new season.”